It’s good to have goals. That is a saying I have repeated many times. Often I said it in a snarky way to make fun of a friend after they said something particularly lacking ambition. But I have also said it in ways to keep me going when I lose focus or don’t know the path I should follow.
In my process of creating my blog and trying to connect to the fly fishing community in a larger sense, I have reached out to several people for advice and feedback. That is something I wouldn’t have done earlier in my life. I would’ve felt embarrassed or like I didn’t want to waste the time of someone I thought of as more important or having a higher status than me. The feeling I got as a kid when I would see a sporting idol carried on with me. At the age of 25, I walked into a Baltimore restaurant and was face to face with Cal Ripken, and I froze; I was completely star struck. I often have a similar feeling when dealing with social media. The feeling comes over me that I really don’t want to bother folks, and I sometimes feel I don’t have much to offer them.
When I decided to start a blog, it felt like a vulnerable space in which I would be exposed. But I also felt safer as the community of folks I see on YouTube, Instagram and at Fly Fishing Shows feel welcoming and supportive and bound together by an appreciation of natural resources and time on the river. It feels a little silly to be star struck as an adult. One of my goals when I decided to start my blog was to be brave in the space where I could reach out to people in the fly fishing community who I learned a lot from and admired. But feeling star struck or like an imposter definitely still hits me. Following my goal as a place to start from, I’ve been able to reach out several folks that I admire. My experiences with their responses have been wonderful.
Going through all the stresses, fears, other emotions, and disruptions associated with the Covid-19 Pandemic has reconnected me to setting and keeping goals. I used fly fishing to help manage my stress and was something I looked forward to each week, when I could get out on the water and decompress. With the Maryland shelter in place order, the Department of Natural Resources has restricted recreational fishing. I have needed to adapt my habits, stress management techniques, and recreational outlets.
I recognize the critical nature of flattening the curve to prevent our medical system from being overloaded. This is especially present to me due to my close friends and relatives who work in hospitals. I know from their stories how stressed our system is, and the folks who work in our hospitals are under duress. A larger outbreak could be devastating. So my need to adapt my stress management feels insignificant in comparison.
However, each of us has many changes to our ways of life associated with the management of the pandemic. Keeping goals seems more important than ever. I was reminded of my need for goals in an interaction I had this week. I have admired and learned from Tim Cammisa’s YouTube channel on fly tying for quite some time. He recently posted on Instagram about his expansion of his email list for updates on his fly fishing news, updates and instruction. I took that post as an opportunity to reach out to him for advice. Tim, like Scott Major (PA Woods and Water), Daniel Galhardo (Tenkara USA) and Dave and Steve (Two Guys and a River), responded quickly when I emailed, and they all provided wonderful support and advice. Tim did ask me what my goals were and with that, my brain engaged in a very needed way.
I hadn’t clearly thought about my goals for my blog, other than being brave in reaching out publically with my thoughts and feelings. I also thought about how missing my time fishing would be helped by setting goals. I thought back to when I was training for a marathon, which was a big goal, but it required lots of small goals to stay motivated on each training run. I found that I needed to challenge my brain during each long run. I would challenge myself to run to a particular sign or tree, and when I got to that tree, I would pick a new thing to run towards. To just run 20 miles wasn’t something I could mentally be with as one large goal. I needed immediate success in small doses stacked on one another to reach a larger goal.
My goals for my blog became clearer. I want to build a larger audience and a community that shares their thoughts around fly fishing and the benefits and enjoyment of the sport. My goals for my recreational outlets during the shelter in place became clearer as well. I wanted to start tying flies each day and building a strategy for filling my fly boxes for when I can get back to the rivers. I also wanted to tie enough flies to send some to friends each week. I also ordered stickers with my blog logo. I’m also going to focus on exercising each day and spending time outside gardening. Stacking results from those smaller goals will help me get through this challenging time and keep my connection to the community.
Following the goal of connecting to and building my community, I’d like to invite you to email or submit a post to my website describing the goals you are taking on to get through this time. The first five people to respond will receive one of my blog logo stickers! I’m going to keep looking for that next sign or tree along my journey and look forward to hearing about how each of you are setting your goals!